ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – An uneasy silence has settled over the city during the past few months, after SWAT helmet camera video that showed two Albuquerque police officers shooting a mentally ill homeless man in the back on March 16 sparked days of street protests and fresh outrage among citizens calling for police reform made for an angry spring and early summer.
Over the weekend, newly released audio recordings turned the volume back up.
State Police Sgt. Chris Ware’s dashcam captured a conversation between Ware and APD Detective Keith Sandy, one of the men who, two hours after the conversation, fired three shots at James Boyd in the Foothills northeast of town.
Sandy referred to Boyd as a “f***ing lunatic” and told Ware that he was going to shoot Boyd with a shotgun. The two longtime officers, who have known each other a dozen years, went on to discuss the Taser shotgun Sandy was apparently referring to. (It fires high-voltage, electronically charged prongs.)
Sandy hadn’t been briefed by anyone about Boyd. He hadn’t even seen the man yet. And in the end, he didn’t shoot him with the Taser shotgun; he shot him with a modified M4 assault-style rifle. Boyd died hours later at a hospital.
Since the dashcam audio and video emerged, KRQE News 13 has been trying to get a response about it from Police Chief Gorden Eden. The chief, who is now more than halfway through his first tumultuous year at the helm of the state’s largest law enforcement agency, has been reluctant to sit down with News 13.
On Tuesday, he agreed to an interview. News 13 asked him about Sandy’s comments, what they say about APD culture, whether Sandy should still be carrying a badge and a gun — and why, with rare exceptions, officers don’t turn on their body-worn cameras, as mandated by APD policy, during the most important encounters with citizens: those in which they choose to use deadly force.
Here’s our interview with Chief Eden: